This is no Hollywood prop.
Engineer and YouTube personality James Hobson has finally done what so many movie nerds before him have dreamed about: He created a functional — and potentially deadly — lightsaber fit for a real Jedi.
Many a “Star Wars” fan have tried to create a genuine lightsaber, but have only succeeded in achieving the look through the use of non-retractable metal tubing and light — in other words, a glorified flashlight.
However, the self-dubbed “Hacksmith” employed what no builder has yet — the principles of laser engineering. In a recent video for his “Make It Real” series, he demonstrates how he managed to manufacture a weapon that was previously thought to be movie magic.
“Even with all of our new equipment and capabilities, we’re still bound by the laws of thermodynamics,” Hobson explains in the video.
“Well, theories say that plasma is best held in a beam by a magnetic field, which, scientifically, checks out,” he continues. “The issue is producing a strong enough electromagnetic field to contain a blade, well the lightsaber would have to be quite literally built inside a box coated in electromagnets, which turns it into a kind of useless science project.”
In order to capture a beam of plasma, Hobson and his teammates, Dave Bonhoff, Ian Hillier and Darryl Sherk, employed the principle of “laminar flow” — combining liquified petroleum gas, or propane, with oxygen and sending them through “laminar nozzles,” a specialized tool for engineers, to create a highly concentrated flow of gas to create a plasma beam, according to Hobson.
By adding additional chemicals to the mix, different colors can also be made: sodium chloride (table salt) turns the beam yellow, like Rey’s in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Boric acid makes green; strontium chloride goes red; and calcium chloride produces an amber color.
To be able to capture and control such high energy output, about enough to power a nuclear plant, he claims, their lightsaber is connected to a custom-built backpack which serves as the power source, with a circuit that can control the flow of gas.
The result is a near-replica of a lightsaber that projects and retracts on command, and burns at 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to slice through steel.
“That is so bright,” says Hobson. “This actually hurts to look at.”
And it’s got a price tag to match its heat level: just one of those laminar nozzles can cost some $4,000.
“We did it. The world’s first retractable plasma based lightsaber,” says Hobson at the conclusion of the 18-minute video, adding that their follow-up demo of how the weapon actually works will “really put [the lightsaber] through its paces, including cutting through a steel door.”